Every day the world chooses a darker turn, a crueler path. Apathy seems the best course against this indecipherable savagery, this unspeakable calamity. Like a turtle, I want to crawl within my shell and disappear. So I take myself to the mountains in springtime where its verdurous raiments can soothe my rattled nerves. Here the fog plays hide and seek with the treetops and the decaying leaves squelch under my feet marking the undisturbed trail. Most of all, the swathes of green herald promise of a new time, a hopeful day on the horizon.

At first all I see are the giant oaks and stately spruces, the way the manzanita branches distort themselves while the birches guard over this viridescent empery. They are a gleeful bunch of misfits, cradling each other’s roots, vying for the slightest glimpse of light, growing, maturing, falling, and rotting away to make room for others. It is a masterpiece of cooperation, a symphony built from relationships. I am in danger of emerging from my protective shell, in danger of falling in love with a hollow redwood. Oak, spruce, and birch all seem to sing a springtime song of affirmation. I want to sing with them.

(such a sky and such a sun
i never knew and neither did you
and everybody never breathed
quite so many kinds of yes)
E. E. Cummings

As I venture deeper into this kingdom and the lullaby of the baby creek and the susurrus of the aspen becomes my soundtrack, I notice the colors: green, but so many variations on the theme. There are more hues of green here than I know words for, and upon spying each one I feebly attempt to give it a name: emerald moss, citrine cotyledon, beryl vine, jade lichen. They wink, gleam, and dapple their way throughout the hills, living jewels bedecking sunken trunks and fallen logs. It would have been effortless to stain everything in one tone but the attention to detail is inspiring. Each vegetation is given its own shade. This is the expertise of chlorophyll at work: tending the luminescence, cooking up both energy and beauty. Such attentiveness stirs me out of hiding, awakens me from indifference. I want to catch the light like chloroplast and gleam.

Green shall all my curtains be, green shall be my pillow,
Green I’ll wear within my hair, and green upon my heart.
Marjorie Pickthall

I plunge further into the intricacies of my new-found dominion, newly seeing, watchful and looking. I observe how the delicate ends of olive-colored moss curl like an old man’s beard upon the oak trunks. Fir branches cup their fledgling sprouted needles, miniature verdant corsages upon each wrist. Gold tipped ferns wait to unfurl their fronds into fractals that pattern the ground like lacework. Here is indecipherable variety that incites awe, the unspeakable splendor of mathematical arrangement which stimulates ideas. I want to create matrices and unfold entanglements.

The smallest sprouts show there is really no death,
And if ever there was it led forward life, and does not wait
at the end to arrest it,
And ceased the moment life appeared….

All goes onward and outward
Walt Whitman

I want to care and commit and connect because this planet is sublime and springtime propitious. Nestled for a time within nature’s harmony, I am no longer satisfied to stay cocooned and apathetic. Studying the elegant complexity and lavish mindfulness given to the smallest of our natural world’s details, how can I remain unresponsive? I am a complication of molecular knots and twists who must engage with reality on its minutest level. So, rather than shrugging my shoulders and walking away, I will ponder more puzzles, I will cross-correlate and dream in abstracts. Faced with a universe dedicated to intricacies and multiplicities, I cannot remain a passive bystander.

Instead, I will learn to operate in fuzzy logic, scour for source code, and embrace their unwieldy imperfection. I will shake off my lethargy and participate as an active citizen of this world because to do otherwise is to negate my love affair with the hollow redwood. To do otherwise is to quench the sparkle of those jeweled greens. To do otherwise is to lose the deep rooted partnership I have with each corkscrew tendril, infant acorn, and fractured filament.

Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts.
Rachel Carson


Atreyee Gupta translates her love of history and culture into writing and publishing travel stories which explore unique journeys. Her travel philosophy is to unearth the compelling stories hidden underneath everyday objects, landmarks, and historic events. Her work has appeared in other publications such as Elephant Journal, Rebelle Society, Pink Pangea, and Your Life Is A Trip. She shares many of her tales on her website: http://www.bespoketraveler.com.

Vagabond City Literary Journal

Founded in 2013, we are a literary journal dedicated to publishing outsider literature. We publish art, prose, reviews, and interviews from marginalized creators.